Been pondering a lot lately on the concept of idolatry... what it is, and is not.
So many times we read a passage in the Bible and think, "tsk, tsk, those Children of Israel sure had a problem with worshiping idols," and move along, shaking our heads at those SILLY Hebrews, bowing down to trees and statues and whatnot. How dumb could they be?
God walked with them, led them, delivered them, even fed them and clothed them, and they still took off for the nearest sacred grove or funny-shaped rock and directed their energies there.
I don't know how to make the transition here, other than to say it flat out. I am dumber than those ancient people. By a long shot. Because I have the Bible, God's precious and Holy Word, right here handy (several copies of it and two different apps, in fact), with the whole plan of redemption laid out before my dazzled eyes. I also have the benefits of four thousand more years of human history to show me that God walks with us, leads us, delivers us, and provides our needs. And I STILL go running after idols.
You look quizzical. No, I don't have a statue in a niche in my house or an icon on the wall that I pray to. But I have idols.
My business has been an idol. A big one. One I put before not only my family but also, I am ashamed to say, my God. Working myself into the ground, sacrificing family time, turning to expensive shortcuts to allow me to spend even more time working. Some call it out of balance; others see it for what it is and call it sin.
My own idea of comfort has been an idol. One I sacrifice all kinds of things to, as I say no to opportunities to serve, people who need me to help, social awkwardness I want to avoid. The flip ease with which I remind myself I don't have time for that. The amount of money I've spent to make sure every little want is fulfilled, but the offering plate slips past me unfilled, once again.
My self-fulfillment has been an idol. An all-consuming one these days, as I ponder career changes and the world screams at me to "find my passion" and "go towards your destiny." Beauty, fashion, or even health crazes that go beyond taking care of the temple of the Holy Ghost and encourage body obsession, unhealthy vanity, even financial burden.
In other words, God walks with me, leads me, delivers me, provides for my needs, and I'm still taking off for the nearest sacred grove or funny-shaped rock and directing my energies there.
JUST like the Children of Israel.
Worshiping and serving and being consumed by ANYTHING other than the Almighty. God Himself reveals Himself to me, and I praise my own efforts, make my own plans, decide in my own self-interests. I chase after any excuse to tear my eyes off the Savior.
The passages in the Bible that warn against idolatry are not there for filler. They are not entertaining stories to fill the time between the Exodus and the Promised Land. They were "written aforetime for our instruction," and they were written for me. A thirty-something slightly-hipster mom in a chevron scarf who lets what is false seem to her as the most real thing there is. They were written for you, to prick your heart and cause you to think about what you have allowed to come between you and God. And to realize that although it may not sit in a little shrine on the bookcase in a corner of your room, or you may not visit it in a peaceful garden and pray in front of it, you have an idol, too.
Idols are dangerous things to have, you know. Not just because they are forbidden. They're dangerous because we serve a jealous God, and He will not tolerate worship of the Creation over the Creator.
The other thing about idols you need to know?
They get struck down.
What have I exalted into a dangerous position because of my misplaced worship? What teeters precariously on the pedestal I built for it? My health? My career? My children? God forgive me.
Father... once again the light of Scripture illuminates and reveals wrong thoughts, wrong concepts of Who You are and my rightful place in relation to Your will. Thank You for including the struggles of the Hebrew children in Your Word, that I might learn. Forgive me for idolizing things, people, business, my own self above You. How incredibly short-sighted we are to place anything above that relationship. How foolish we are to spend so much of our tiny blip of a moment on planet Earth looking at anything except for You. You alone are worthy; Your glory alone owns our gaze. Amen.